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Vote of the Week: Do You Buy the No-Expiration Option on Disney World Tickets?

January 23, 2015, 8:42 PM · We are approaching that time of year when the Walt Disney World theme parks raise their ticket prices. Last year, Disney raised the prices of a one-day ticket at the Magic Kingdom to $99 and the other parks to $94. Of course, few people buy one-day tickets to Disney World. Disney's ticket price structure lowers the per-day prices of its tickets the more days you buy, encouraging you to stay longer at the resort. (And, of course, making it relatively more expensive to leave property for a day or two to go visit Harry Potter and friends at Universal Orlando.) That's why almost all visitors to Walt Disney World buy multi-day tickets.

Walt Disney World entrance sign

But you've got many more options beyond the number of days you buy when you purchase a Disney ticket. One way that people have gotten around the ever-increasing price of Disney World tickets is to buy the "no expiration" option on their tickets. By default, multi-day Disney World tickets expire 14 days from the ticket's first use. But if you buy the no-expiration option, your unused days are good forever, locking your future visits in at today's prices.

Of course, Disney charges plenty for this benefit, sharply reducing its value. Many years ago, when the no-expiration option didn't cost that much, going with the no-expire tickets was a good deal for fans who planned regular visits to the resort. Today, many fans have done the math and decided that paying $77.60 a day for a 10-day park-hopper with no-expiration versus $41.40 a day for the same ticket that does expire doesn't provide enough of a hedge against future price increases to make the option worth its price. (Some of those fans have decided instead to join the Disney Vacation Club, the company's time-share deal, which provides some discounts on park tickets as well as the potential to get a better room for your money when staying on-site.) Two years ago, Disney took the no-expiration option off its website and many ticket booth boards, making it an "off the menu" option you had to ask for in person or over the phone.

Ever since then, we've heard rumblings from within the company that Disney wants to eliminate the no-expiration option altogether. Disneyland doesn't sell a no-expiration on its tickets, and the elimination of the option in Orlando would bring the two resorts in line on this issue.

What do you think?


Would you miss the no-expiration option if it went away entirely? Would it change the way that you choose which Disney World ticket to buy? Please tell us in the comments what Disney World ticket you buy when you visit, and why.

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Replies (15)

January 23, 2015 at 10:57 PM · We live in SoCal. Used to buy the no expiration 10 day and use the remaining days at DL. We used to not buy the hopper in FL but they would give us hoppers in CA. It was a great deal. I read recently that you can't do it anymore, so we stopped buying the no expiration. We go through Disney's educational program now every time we go to Florida. You save a great deal (about 25%) on tickets for kids. No expiration isn't an option - nor is adding days to the ticket after you purchase them. Anybody with school-age kids can buy them but you have to go to a 3-hour educational program during your time at the park. Sometimes you don't really want to be educated for 3 hours, but sometimes they are fun. Last time we got into the MK about an hour before opening and got to go up on stage at the Hall of Presidents. We got to ride Thunder right when it opened, but then we were still being educated during the first hour of park opening so couldn't jump out to go on rides when lines were short. So there are pros and cons, but the cost savings are well worth it. 4 day base ticket for $196 versus price without the educational program being $291 for a youth. For tweens and teens between 10 and 17 years old, you pay the same $196 for 4-days instead of the $313 normal 10+ years old ticket. Adults who attend the program pay the regular $313 but adults who don't attend save about $15 and pay $298. Prices and values vary based on the number of days purchased, which must be between 3 and 8 days. As a family of six wanting four park days we saved well over $400 by having everybody go through the program. It takes a bit of work, putting in potential info and clicking through (starting here: https://www.studentguest.com/yes/) to get to price info but when you compare to any other rates you'll see it's well worth your time.
January 24, 2015 at 2:53 AM · I think that they way that Disney needs to view it on doing away with the non expire is that some of us will purchase tickets with more carefully and not buy the 10 day hopper with the non expiration when we really just need and 8 day hoppper. If I leave property or not, I would rather over buy for a few days sometimes and have the option to go in the parks than to run out of days. So like if I stayed at the resort and played in the pool on one day but still wanted to go to Epcot for dinner, at least I have that option and Disney would make more money. I think from an economic impact it's better for Disney to get the money sooner and maybe invest the money in a park and they might experience what in the retail industry call breakage or free money when people buy the product and never redeem it--happens a lot with gift cards. Kind of like the Disney Dollars I buy, sometimes I use them but a lot of the time I just buy them and maybe frame them as souvineers, meaning I'll never use them and I just bought 1/4 or less of a sheet of printed paper for $1 to $20, that's pretty good mark-up. And thanks Jeff for that info, I had never heard of that education program..
January 24, 2015 at 6:16 AM · It's one of the things that made Disney special, when folks would go back home to Ohio or elsewhere and say, "and we still have one day left that never expires!" It not only gave them a reason to go back, but it left them thinking they got a deal from Disney that they wouldn't from greedier, lesser places. Knowing what I do now, it feels very Walt-inspired, along the lines of his decision to sell the original picture souvenir books at cost (25 cents vs. 50 cents).

I'll miss the thrill it gave our family many years ago to buy more days, knowing we may or may not use them all this time, but that we'd store them safely until we went again. I'm sure it's an accounting nightmare, however, and with other factors, like the uber-planning that MyMagic+ requires, that spontaneity is gone, and so never-expiring tickets are likely gone, too.

(Oh, and since Magic Your Way and the subsequent removal of the option online, it's been harder to justify the added cost and hassle of No Expiration, especially when buying discounted tickets via AAA, travel packages, work discounts, etc. I haven't bought No Expiration tickets in 4-5 years.)

January 24, 2015 at 8:48 AM · I just go on Craig's List and pick up tickets for like $30 each and then cross my fingers that they're legit. When they're that cheap, it's worth a shot.

.....

I'm joking, of course.

January 24, 2015 at 9:18 AM · I thought they were gone?
January 24, 2015 at 10:16 AM · It made sense when they made sense financially but Disney must not have wanted the spontaneity. That is why they priced them into not making sense and removed it from the options. They probably made planning attendance difficult.
I would say of the 2 US parks park hopper only makes sense at DLR. Takes too long to hop in WDW. Time is money.
January 24, 2015 at 2:01 PM · We buy a 10 day non expiration ticket and then only use 2 days a year as we are only in Florida for 8 weeks a year . This way its cheaper for us to go only once or twice a Florida visit . We then go to the other non Disney parks too. I will miss the 10 day ticket thing but with our schedule we only buy it once every five years. I have a house in Florida so we can get the 3 day Florida resident ticket that they sell when we are there so we may be forced to go 3 days when our tickets are all used up
January 24, 2015 at 10:04 PM · The no expiration pass only makes sense if you don't visit much. Say you want to visit for 3 days or less once a year or even less frequently. The pass ensures your per day admission price is locked in and this is apparent as Disney dramatically increases prices each year. However, if you're a frequent visitor, the regular passes makes more sense. Visiting the parks twice a year or more, you're better off with an Annual Pass. I believe Disney doesn't want the no expiration passes since they are a known risk of unclaimed revenue. It might just be more hassle to maintain on their books as well as trying to authenticate old admission passes. It can cost them more than profit from them.
January 26, 2015 at 7:06 AM · We used to always buy non-expiring tickets, but we have bought standard tickets on our last 3 trips. Typically, we've gotten sucked into free dining promotions, which requires guests purchase tickets in order to get the promotion, so our 10-day non-expiring passes from almost 7 years ago have stayed in the safe. We have considered using them, and purchasing just 1 or 2-day passes to get the free dining promotion, while using the non-expiring passes for the rest of our trip, but the price of 1 and 2-day passes is just so ridiculous that it doesn't make financial sense even though the 10-day non-expiring passes were bought at less than $40/day.

We did convert our old non-expiring passes over to the new RFID cards on our last trip (along with consolidating some other older ticket media), which is something I highly recommend for everyone to do, unless you have really old non-biometrically linked media. The way we look at it, if we're ever in Orlando on business or simply on a whim, we can get into WDW without having to buy admission at the going rate, and can visit for just one day at a time without paying the obscene 1-day rates.

I feel that Universal's pass structure makes the most sense with 3-day passes that are typically the most widely used, but with 4 and 5-day promotional passes that are the same price as the 3-day passes to get guests to spend extra days in the Universal parks. If Disney eliminated the non-expiring option, I could see them trying the tact of adding days beyond the typical visit (6 or 7 days) essentially for free. Not only would that quell the backlash from eliminating the non-expiring option, but it would be more of an encouragement for guests to spend those extra days at WDW and not at Universal Orlando.

January 26, 2015 at 1:34 PM · We buy the non-expiring 10 days passes with every option every time we get a tax refund. We use 3-4 days a year, sometimes only 2-3. The law of averages helps us keep our costs down. Will definitely miss the non-expire option if it goes away.
January 26, 2015 at 1:40 PM · Its not worth it anymore. Adding the no expiration is like doubling the price. Years ago it was free, then it was a little , now it is greed.
January 26, 2015 at 3:43 PM · Like the person above we come to Florida once a year. We go around Christmas and like to spend 1 day at Disney to take in the Osbourne Christmas lights and the Christmas story. For that reason having purchased the 10 day hopper non-expiry has proven to be the most economical for us in the end. Last year we purchased our non-expiry tickets from Undercover Tourist as like someone said they are no longer available on the Walt Disney site. The previous tickets lasted us for about 8 years and with the yearly rising prices we more than got our value out of the tickets.

For those of us who love Disney but cannot visit on a regular basis, it does work out to be less with the caveat that you don't use up all your days in 2 - 3 years.

In the end you need to understand your visiting habits and cost it out to understand whether you will find the price worth it.

January 26, 2015 at 7:29 PM · Hello,
My name is Kris and I am also a non-expiring Disney ticket buyer. Yes, I need help, but like it has been mentioned above, the economics made sense in certain situations. On top of this I would purchase the Park Hopper option (I know a bunch of you are shuddering in fear now) for my multi-day ticket. I travel to Orlando for HHN each year and I like to spend one day at Disney hitting all four parks. Now with the changes being made with MagicBands and tickets it's almost like Disney doesn't want me to visit their parks. Which is probably fine for them, they'll find other families that are willing to shell out more than me to visit.

That's okay though. Universal's season pass is still economical for me and I receive a discount on hotels along with food purchases. Guess who will receive more of my money and time?

January 27, 2015 at 5:35 AM · My understanding is that you can link non-expiry tickets to the MagicBands. There are a few Disney discussion boards that explain how people have done it based on the age of the non-expiry ticket.
January 29, 2015 at 9:27 AM · Disney should reward all loyal, returning customers with the option of buying tickets the old way...no expiration, all are park-hoppers. Period! As an early retiree I am devoting more time to my IRA account in the stock market. I counter all Disney price increases with profits in their stock. At least I feel I'm keeping even!

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